This story is now rated M because Nagato is not going to gain his peace...peacefully. Man, that was a bad pun. XD
Nagato did not know what had gone wrong when he suddenly found himself sitting on a bed in a very messy and rundown apartment, holding an empty cup of instant ramen in his hands.
The Akatsuki leader carelessly put the cup down and stared at his much too small hands.
What was going on?
Had he not been battling the Nine-Tails Jinchuuriki only moments before?
Why was he suddenly in the body of a child?
Where was he?
He raised his head and looked directly at a gigantic leaf symbol hanging over his headboard.
What was he doing in Konoha?
He stood up, walked briskly towards the only mirror in the room and froze.
It was not his image that was looking back at him.
It was Uzumaki Naruto.
The Nine-Tails Jinchuuriki.
And he was very young.
For a moment Nagato stared disbelievingly at his reflection. Was this a dream?
He pinched himself.
The reflection remained the same.
He tried again.
It still hurt – and nothing had changed.
The child was still looking back at him.
That was when realization hit him, and he hastily pushed up his shirt, examining the unblemished childish skin. The seal was still there.
Nagato laughed. For some strange, unfathomable reason, he had just become the Nine-Tails Jinchuuriki.
What an irony.
What was he supposed to do now? Seek his counterpart? No. That was not a good idea.
He was Uzumaki Naruto now and if he tried to approach Pain, he would only end up having his chakra sealed and being locked up tight - no questions asked.
Contact Madara? Equally bad idea.
No. Currently, Akatsuki was his enemy. Pain rubbed his temples. But then, had it really worked out at all? Most members had been killed by the time he had attacked Konoha, and he had been at the verge of losing as well.
Perhaps this was a chance.
A chance to try again.
He already had the most powerful bijuu at his disposal, after all.
Yes, this idea had some merit. He would have to look further into it.
But first he had to get his strength back.
He examined his body again. Uzumaki Naruto – no, he seemed to be about five or six years old. An academy student, most likely, or about to become one.
Intent on finding out more about the boy, Nagato opened the closet and flinched at the abundance of orange jumpsuits. Did the child not own something more practical? And in different colors? Red and black perhaps? He very much preferred Akatsuki's signature colors and really did not feel like completely undressing himself every time he needed to vanish into the shrubbery.
Nagato rummaged through the drawers, eyeing the mismatched socks and crumpled underwear in affronted displeasure, and spent the next twenty minutes rearranging the socks into their correct pairs and folding his briefs.
Once his wardrobe was finally considered orderly again, Nagato wandered into the kitchen and glanced into the fridge. It was almost empty. The milk was way past its expiration date, and he could not see a single vegetable anywhere.
The cupboard above the sink, though, was filled to the brink with different kinds of instant ramen.
Had nobody told the child how unhealthy that was?
Shaking his head, he went through the backpack the boy had carelessly thrown down next to the kitchen door and emptied the contents onto the floor.
He found five blunted kunai, three shuriken that had seen better days, a battered history book, two broken pencils and a ripped sheet that seemed to contain a timetable.
Nagato studied the child's schedule. He had been correct. Uzumaki Naruto had been an academy student and judging by his classes, a rather new one as well. He quickly glanced onto the digital clock to check the date. It was Friday. Enough time for him to arrive then, good.
Nagato turned to look at the boy's broken supplies. They needed to be replaced.
In fact, Nagato glanced at the cracks in the wall and the flickering ceiling light, there were a lot of things that needed replacement.
But before that, he had something more important to take care of.
Nagato refused to play the role of a cheerful prankster. He would never manage to pull it off, anyway.
Unfortunately, people did not just change their entire personalities overnight. Not unless something very traumatizing happened.
Which was very unlikely.
So Nagato just had to make it happen.
Nagato had always been meticulous and very perceptive. It was easy for him to pick out those who harbored a strong dislike for this body's owner out of the crowd.
He observed his potential pawns closely, but none of them had the right level of loathing and hatred to be utilized.
Until he came across him. The man with the eye patch. The man's animosity was almost tangible.
He would serve his purposes well.
Now he just needed to lure him in.
He met the man's hostile gaze and smirked.
Akame Iwana was furious. Not only had he met that damn demon brat on the street, that thing even had the gall to smirk at him! It was infuriating. Countless people had died and the cause of this was running around free, looking at him with that damn gloating look.
Iwana really wanted to put his hand around that blasted demon's neck and squeeze. At least then they would finally be rid of him.
Sadly enough, the Hokage was protecting that thing, helping it to escape justice and even keeping that thing's living place a secret.
He snarled into his glass.
"…almost the entire building is vacated," a male voice suddenly said behind him.
"Really?" a second voice, a female this time answered, sounding incredulous. "What happened?"
"They say it lives there," the male whispered.
Iwana froze and slightly shifted to listen in, his grip tightening around the glass.
The female inhaled sharply. "No wonder everyone moved away," she muttered. "I'd probably have done the same."
Iwana agreed. He would have done that, too. After paying that thing a visit, though. It was pretty weak in that small body now. He would have no problems teaching it a lesson.
"Yeah," the man replied. "I heard that the owner of the Uyemura apartment complex was not too happy about that."
Uyemura apartment complex, eh?
Iwana smirked coldly.
Time for a little walk.
Nagato's eyes flashed as the dispelling of his clones announced his success.
The young boy did not even flinch as his apartment door was kicked open.
There was a moment of tense silence as Nagato turned away from the window and met the smirking man's cruel gaze with emotionless eyes. "Akame Iwana," he greeted his visitor in a flat, uncaring tone. "I have been expecting you."
For a moment, the child's unexpected words threw the man off his game and something like unease flitted over his face before it distorted in fury. "Demon," he snarled.
"Demon?" Nagato repeated, tilting his head. "No. I am not a demon. I am Pain. I am god and today you will face your judgment."
The room burned.
Nagato looked blankly at the old man standing in front of his hospital bed. The Third had not wasted any time in checking on him the moment he had heard about the attack.
"Naruto…", the Hokage sighed, gazing at the young child's injury with a very sad look.
There was a moment of silence before Nagato began to speak.
"He said I deserved it."
The Third flinched, unsettled by both the words and the detached tone they had been delivered in.
"He called me a monster," Nagato continued. "A demon."
The Hokage's gaze saddened even further.
"He told me to die."
The dog masked ANBU next to the Hokage shifted. Nagato decided it was time to deliver the finishing blow.
"Maybe he was right. Maybe you should just have left me there. Maybe you should just kill me."
"No!" the Third interrupted him sharply, his voice ringing with power. The man put his hands on the child's shoulders and captured the empty eyes with his own, trying to will the boy to understand.
"He was not right, Naruto. You don't deserve what happened to you, and you most certainly do not deserve death."
"No but!" The Hokage was not backing down. "You are a child. You did nothing wrong."
"…I didn't?" Nagato asked, tilting his head. "Then…why?"
"He was drunk," the Hokage evaded. "And probably confused, so he took his anger out on the first person he saw. You cannot believe anything he said."
"…Okay," Nagato answered after a long pause, before adding. "He was so strong. I pushed, but he didn't move." he lowered his voice until he was barely whispering the last words. "I killed him."
The dog masked ANBU twitched, and the Hokage put his hand on the child's head. "You did nothing wrong," he told him firmly.
"Okay…", Nagato mumbled quietly.
There was another short silence before the child spoke up again. This time more determinedly.
"I will train harder. I promise."
The Hokage stilled. He was glad that Naruto seemed to be intent on taking his training more seriously now, but he was not too happy as to the reason why. He did not want the child to be driven by fear. He looked at the empty blue eyes that used to be so full of life and decided to keep his concerns to himself. If it helped the child recover, he would not stop him.
"Good," he answered simply. "I am looking forward to your progress."
The Akatsuki leader watched the door close behind his visitors and leaned against the headboard. The self-inflicted wound on his chest throbbed. Stabbing himself was not a pleasant experience, but if it meant being able to act more freely, he did not mind it at all.
Anything to achieve his dreams.